Commercial work leads output as industry growth recovers from November’s seven-month low

General construction

Commercial construction has seen the fastest rise in new work since October 2014, according to the latest Markit/CIPS survey.

Commercial construction remained the best performing sub-category of activity in December, with survey respondents noting that improved UK economic conditions continued to boost demand for commercial projects.

Overall the seasonally adjusted output index registered 57.8 in December, up from a seven-month low of 55.3 in November.

Housing activity also increased at a robust rate, recovering from the 29-month low seen during November.

Anecdotal evidence also cited an improving flow of development opportunities and new invitations to tender.

Meanwhile, construction companies have signalled a positive outlook for business conditions in 2016, with 51% of the survey panel anticipating a rise in business activity over the course of 2016, and just 7% forecasting a reduction.

Commenting on the survey, Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit and author of the Markit/CIPS Construction PMI, said: “UK construction companies finished 2015 in a positive fashion, as overall output growth recovered from November’s seven-month low.

“Commercial building was the main engine of growth, with this area of activity expanding at the strongest pace since autumn 2014.

 “Across the UK construction sector as a whole, the latest survey indicated a strong degree of optimism about the outlook for 2016, with firms mainly citing a strong pipeline of commercial development projects and new housing starts.”

Max Jones, global corporates director for construction at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “All things considered, the outlook looks mixed.

“For many the main objectives this year will be to continue improving margins, strengthening order books and jettisoning troublesome legacy contracts.

“There will also be hopes of further progress in the national infrastructure pipeline, including a decision on a new airport runway in the south east of England.”